Doulas: The Unexpected Key to Maternal Health Awareness
Doulas have been gaining popularity in recent years as people become more aware of the services they provide to expecting mothers and fathers. Still, you may be wondering what doulas do that makes them such an important part of the pregnancy and childbirth process, and why so many couples now insist on hiring one for the birthing of their child(ren). This article explores the role of doulas in maternal health awareness and helps you learn more about how doulas benefit everyone involved in the birthing process—parents and children alike.
What are doulas?
Doulas are non-medical professionals who help women before, during and after childbirth. They are well trained in how labour progresses and how a woman’s body responds to contractions; their sole focus is supporting women through their births. Without doulas, many mothers feel lost and alone as they go through one of life’s most important experiences. When mothers have support from doulas, they experience better health outcomes for themselves and their babies. It’s an unexpected key to maternal health awareness.
How do they help?
Doulas are not typically well-known members of healthcare teams, but they play a significant role in maternal health. Doulas provide support and education on many issues surrounding prenatal care and childbirth, including childcare needs and postpartum concerns. A growing body of research has found that doulas play an important role in improving maternal health. This is because they help women avoid emergency situations and provide postpartum support during critical times. Additionally, doulas can offer emotional support for new mothers through one of their most vulnerable periods. In fact, some studies have shown that regular prenatal visits with a doula can increase breastfeeding rates by as much as 90 percent. As such, hiring a professional doula may be one of your best options for keeping both you and your baby healthy throughout pregnancy and beyond.
When should you contact a doula?
Prenatal classes, doctors visits, and childbirth education can provide you with an invaluable amount of information on how to deliver a healthy baby. When you’re pregnant, it can be difficult—if not impossible—to remember all of that data when things get hectic at home or on-the-go. That’s where doulas come in. Doulas are trained professionals who will help you understand what to expect during your pregnancy, as well as support you during labor and delivery. They also offer maternal health support for postpartum mothers.
Where can you find one?
To find a doula, ask around your social circle and see if any of your friends or family have used one. If you don’t have anyone you can refer, try searching online for a doula in your area or start asking OB-GYNs who they recommend. You can also consult with a local motherhood support group; sometimes these organizations will have volunteer doulas available. Doulas aren’t just helpful during pregnancy—they can be beneficial after birth as well. In fact, according to research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, new mothers who use a postpartum doula are less likely to experience depression than those who didn’t use one.
How does it work with your insurance?
Working with a doula is typically covered by health insurance. While a number of states offer some level of coverage for services rendered by doulas, most policies require that doulas be licensed in order to qualify for reimbursement. Additionally, your insurance company might require you get a referral from your doctor or midwife before you can qualify for coverage. Depending on which state you live in, your insurance plan might not cover all aspects of care.
Is there anything else I should know?
One thing to remember is that doulas are not just one-time hires. While it’s common for women to hire a doula for the day of their birth, the services of a doula can be extended into the postpartum period. You may have heard about how much support and assistance doulas provide in labor and delivery, but you might not know how they can help you after your baby is born. After all, there are many new challenges that come with being a new parent—it’s hard enough figuring out how to care for your newborn without also having to learn how to care for yourself.